Mogollon Pit Houses in the Southwest

The Mogollon culture of the Southwestern US came to florescence from A.D. 200 to A.D. 1540.  Their home was the present-day Chihuahan desert where they built pit-houses, above ground houses, and villages where they engaged in agriculture, field-management, and a variety of economic and ritual activities. Pit houses were an early form of construction that eventually gave way by A.D. 1000 to above-ground pueblo style buildings. The transition from pit houses to pueblo, above-ground construction made from adobe or stone signifies man’s conquest of nature. Much as mobility and gathering related activites were related to pithouse construction, sedentism and pueblos are related. Personally, I take this to mean that by building above the earth, in regular and rectangular forms, they were demonstrating how they have conquered nature. No longer were Mogollon peoples at the whim of nature, following the cycles of flora and fauna. Rather, the Mogollon peoples at A.D. 700 to A.D. 1000 had brought maize, beans, and squash under their proverbial green thumbs. They built complex systems of canals and dams to bring water to their crops in the arid desert. Furthermore, the pithouse settlements once dug haphazardly into the hillsides do not get built after A.D. 700 – pueblo construction is the case afterwards. These pueblo houses are built in regularized fashion, adding one house on to another in grid-like fasion.  In a sense, after the pithouse to pueblo transition, I believe man has emerged from the womb of the Earth, and does not return to it to live. Rather, man choses to return to the Earth in death in the form of burials in the house floors of pueblo houses.

Honeybees come to mind when I think about Mogollon structures – their hexaganol hives so geometrically perfect, layed out in purposfully made ways. I wonder, does the honeybee mock the carpenter bee, digging halphazardly into softwoods wherever he may find them?


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